Blues suffer defeat in Origin opener

Margie McDonald

The Queensland Maroons snared a 26-18 victory over the Westpac NSW Blues at Adelaide Oval tonight to take a 1-0 lead in the 2023 Ampol State of Origin series.

Doubles to Maroons outside backs Selwyn Cobbo and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow set up the win – two tries being scored when they were reduced to 12 men late in the second half, when Tom Flegler was sin-binned for a tackle on NSW centre Tom Trbojevic.

“I thought in that last minutes when they were a man down, that was our chance to be patient and grind out a win,” NSW Blues captain James Tedesco told Channel Nine.

“But some of their big players came out with some good plays.

“That’s Origin footy. It’s always going to come down to the last 10 minutes and to the big moments and they just won those tonight.”

Tedesco was one of NSW’s best – 209 metres off 22 runs, with seven tackle busts. Winger Brian To’o wasn’t far behind with 201 metres, a line-break and six tackle busts.

Payne Haas (27 tackles, missing none) and Tyson Frizell (33 tackles) were among the hardest-working forwards, while in the halves five-eighth Jarome Luai had two line-break assists and two try assists, with Nathan Cleary sending up 18 kicks – one producing a try.

But Queensland started and finished the game better.

“We hurt ourselves early with ill-discipline but when we got back in the game and went set for set we looked really good and it felt really good,” Tedesco said.

“It felt good right to the last 10 minutes and then we let it slip.”

Now the Blues must travel to Brisbane for Game Two at Suncorp Stadium on 21 June before Game Three at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on 12 July.

“We won twice in Queensland a few years ago (2021) so it’s not over yet,,” Tedesco said.

“Obviously it’s ideal to win the first game but there’s still two to go. If we go up there and get a win we’re back at home for the last one, which will be good.”

Queensland took a 10-6 lead into halftime although NSW was ahead 5-3 in the penalty count, and had enjoyed 56 per cent possession.

The lead changed four times in the second half as the two sides went tit-for-tat with tries.

The Maroons raced to an early 10-0 lead through tries by Tabuai-Fidow and Cobbo.

The Blues had been held up over the line twice – first James Tedesco in the 19th minute and Tyson Frizell four minutes later.

It took until the shadow of half-time when the Penrith Panthers’ trifecta in the NSW side got to work.

Cleary threw a no-look pass to Luai, who put second-rower Liam Martin through a neat hole. Cleary converted and the Blues’ far better field position finally paid some dividends (10-6).

Fortunes then swung the other way when just three minutes after the break, Api Koroisau scooped up a wayward pass from Valentine Holmes to score an opportunistic try. Cleary converted and NSW had the lead for the first time (12-10).

Queensland grabbed it back with Cobbo getting his second, but then a Cleary kick was retrieved by the Blues and spun out to the left edge for Stephen Crichton to cross.

NSW was ahead once more (18-16) and trying to finish off the Maroons. They had been reduced to 12 men in the 68thminute, when Flegler was binned for a dangerous tackle. Trobjevic left the field for an HIA (head injury assessment) and did not return.

Despite being down a man, the Maroons scored two more tries to seal the win.